Vitalik Buterin is Not Leaving Ethereum

Ethereum's creator: Vitalik Buterin
Ethereum’s creator: Vitalik Buterin

Ethereum’s Vitalik Buterin is recognisable in many ways: skinny, dressed in unicorn attire, bed-head, and a serene and faraway smile. Buterin is also the creator and de facto leader of one of the most promising technology networks in the world. Vitalik’s influence stretches well beyond the Ethereum blockchain. His work has informed the entire blockchain space, and he’s been identified as a global thought leader by Forbes and other international media outlets.

It’s impossible to think about Ethereum without considering its famous creator. And that’s why Ethereum fans seem a little panicked when he talks about the possibility of receding from the spotlight. But is Vitalik really leaving Ethereum? And what would happen if he did? Fortunately, we don’t think Ethereum buyers and fans have anything to worry about in this regard. Here’s what Vitalik means when he talks about leadership decentralisation.

Vitalik Doesn’t Plan to Leave Ethereum

Vitalik Buterin at last year's TechCrunch
Vitalik Buterin at last year’s TechCrunch

To understand what Vitalik is talking about when he references “fading into the background”, you’ve got to understand his vision for decentralisation. To Vitalik Buterin, a blockchain is no better than a traditional corporation if it’s led by a centralised figure. Vitalik isn’t the CEO of Ethereum; he’s just the guy who started it. And sure, he may be more famous than any other person who works on Ethereum, but this doesn’t mean he’s inherently the most important.

At various times in his career, Vitalik has made it clear that he’s not the best coder in Ethereum. He’s not the most competent engineer. He doesn’t have the best ideas or the most original innovations. He’s hired people with this expertise over the past couple of years, and many of these are doing the most important technical work on the platform.

Ethereum has also been putting more and more of its daily tasks into the virtual hands of algorithms and smart contracts. Many aspects of Ethereum run themselves. If Vitalik disappeared tomorrow, these autonomous wings of the network would continue without his daily influence.

Buterin recognises that to be successful for years and decades, Ethereum must be able to survive and thrive without his direct oversight. He also knows where his expertise lies, and where to rely on the skills of others. For this reason, he’s allowing himself to fade into the background, rather than feed a cult of personality that won’t be good for the long-term health of his beloved platform.

In his own words from Twitter, “I am not leaving. No plans to stop or reduce blog posts/ethresearch posts/Github commits.” These tasks have been the most important that he has ever committed to the protocol, and these he will continue even if he doesn’t pursue the media’s attention like he did a couple of years ago. This is a good thing for Ethereum, and for the leader that the Ethereum community has grown to trust so deeply.

Featured image source: Flickr